How to... make Candle Wicks (& Experiment & Results) - Red Ted Art's Blog : Red Ted Art's Blog

How to… make Candle Wicks (& Experiment & Results)

| February 3, 2012 | 46 Comments

different candle wicksWelcome to this week’s How To – “How to make candle wicks”.  As you know, I love to recycle and each year at Christmas we are left with a lot of old, but perfectly good candles. As a child I once received a candle making kit and loved it. I wanted to have another go at making candles – but with things from around the house. To start off I needed some candle wicks. So I looked up how to make candle wicks and found that the recommendations varied. So. I made 3 different types and tested them!

(And whilst you are, come look at our cookie cutter candles – no special shop bought moulds required!)


Wick 1 (Borax overnight):

  • 4 tbsp Borax
  • 2 tbsp Salt
  • 1.5 cups Water
  • * left overnight
  • butchers twine or similar thick cotton
  • Once fully dried dipped in candle wax 2-3 times

Wick 2 (Borax 20min):

  • Borax
  • Salt
  • Water
  • * left for 20 min
  • butchers twine or similar thick cotton/ cotton cord
  • Once fully dried dipped in candle wax 2-3 times


  • butchers twine or similar thick cotton/ cotton cord (I have seen people use embroidery cotton and it seems to work fine..)
  • Dipped in candle wax
+ A Real Wick for the Test
To make the wick:
make your own candle wick
1) Disolve the borax and salt in warm water
2) Place your cotton/ twine in the solution and leave for the recommended time
3) Place somewhere to dry (e.g. an airing cupboard). The cotton must be FULLY dry before you proceed, so you may want to wait 2-3 days!
how to make candle wick
4) Heat some wax in a container over hot water (I used an old pot and a can)
how to make candle wick
5) Dip the string, hang it. It will dry very quickly.
candle wick how to
6) Dip again. As my can wasn’t very full and my string was very long, I fudged this a bit and just poured more wax over my wicks, then dried those on some foil.
Now I made some test candles
Materials: home made wick, old pan of water, old tin, wax, ice cube tray, tape
In order to test the candles, I thought I make some little ones – The only ice cube try I could find was our heart shaped one – which actually turned out quite pretty. I got a carried away and made lots – the kids were fascinated!

1) Melt your wax  in the tin, which is sitting in a bath of water. I probably filled the tin half way with white wax. I used an old pan of ours, you won’t ruin it, but wax can be a little tricky to clean off, so you may as well use an old one!

candle wicks tutorial

2) Tape down your wicks (I could only find my gold tape, but needless to say normal tape is fine, if not better). Once you add the hot wax, it will melt the wax on the wick, making it all floppy and wanting to float. I found the tape then stayed on the candle. So I later tried it with blue tack. Which work just fine, but got really “weird sticky” and was hard to remove from the ice cube tray. Your call. If you want a really professional finishing, then tie your wick to a toothpick and suspend it properly  or hold it place with a cloth peg (but then you can’t fill your ice cube tray to the top. Personally I was too lazy, afterall these are test candles. So see step 3.

 candle wick how to

3) Poor in the hot wax. As it starts to set, prop up the candle wick. Don’t do it too early, it will just fall over or too late, as it will make a mess of your candle surface. This is fiddly and trial and error. And yes, this is where tying to a toothpick is beneficial.

4) Once cooled, pop out of your trays and done. You will find that your wax contracts and that you will get a dip in your candle. You can always top up your wax, but you may create visible layers in the finished candle. It is really just a matter of preference. I don’t mind the dip (too much).

These test candles actually turned out very prettily. And I am going to wrap them in some cellophane and curling ribbon and give these as small presents!

The test:

 different candle wicks

candle wicks without borax

Top left: Wick 1 – Borax over night

Top right – a “real wick” from one of the left over candles

Bottom left: Plain wick (twine dipped in wax)

Bottom right: Wick 2 – Borax for 20min


Out of ALL the candles the borax left overnight sample had the best flame – it shone taller than the “real wick”.

All candles burnt the same amount of time. Though the “plain” and the “short borax solution where at risk of drowning in the wax, as their flames were low. If poured away, they lasted longer.

candle wicks with and without borax

So… my advice? Make your candle wicks with borax and leave them overnight. It doesn’t take that long and the flame is much more impressive. However, if you really want to make “candles today” and didn’t have time to make or buy a wick, then you can get away with some cotton or embroidery floss dipped 3-4 times in wax first!

Hope you have fun making your own candle wicks and do have a go at candle making it is great. More “candle” ideas to follow.


Did you like this? Share it:

Tags: , , ,

Category: How To's, Recycling

Comments (46)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Aly says:

    Oh how awesome.I have a candle making kit that I bought froma second hand shop that I\’m going to use now.The prices of moulds put me off so I\’ve left it under my bed.

  2. Red Ted Art says:

    Perfect!!! Have fun.

    • Roy says:

      Been looking all over to ask a question. Of all the Home made wick making articles, I haven’t seen one that mentions the crystals that form when you take your string out of the Borax, salt, and water solution. So, what do you do about them. Why doesn’t ANYONE mention that in their turorials. I have the string drying now crystals included.

  3. HELEN says:

    This is great…but I have no idea what Borax is….I keep thinking of an eastern european in a mankini!

  4. Red Ted Art says:

    Helen – you can buy Borax on Amazon. It used be available in Chemists. It IS toxic, but only if you eat it.. so it is one of those things, that you just have to take a little care with – but lots of people use it regularly etc. I was unable to find any instructions for candle making that didn\’t include it :-(

  5. Shelly says:

    Borax is used for alot of household things. The biggest one is for fleas, You can use it to clean with an wash clothes in. You should be able to find if at a walmart or at a grocery store. Hope this helps.

  6. Courtney says:

    This is a great experiment! Thanks for the info. I hope it’s alright that I linked to it from my web site. I made candles using just the cotton thread and they did work well.

  7. Vickie says:

    how do you make candles

  8. Jennifer says:

    I use the coin shaped wick ‘stands’ from the bottom of used tea lights (and other wide candles) to make new candles. You can reuse them over and over. You just push a toothpick through from the bottom to open up the prongs again to get the leftover wick bits and wax out and then close them on a new length of wick. Easiest thing ever.

    P.S. Borax is in the laundry aisle

  9. Karina says:

    These are great tips for priming a wick at home. Another tip is just as the wax creates a thin layer as it starts to cool, jiggle the wick to let air bubbles out and top up with hot wax. Hopefully, you shouldn’t get such an obvious double layer.

  10. Chanel says:

    Thank you! Great experiment. I am so grateful for your work, and for the work you saved me.

  11. Ro says:

    I’m making these now – Thanks!

    But, after soaking the wick in the borax & salt solution for about 5-6 hours, lots of huge crystals have formed on the twine. Have you had this happen before? I can’t imagine that it’d be good to have candle wicks with these big crystals all over them. Any advice?
    I’ve pulled them out of the solution & am hanging them to dry.

    Again – thanks for the tips – this will save me a lot on the candles I’m making!

    • Red Ted Art says:

      Yes, I had the crystals form too and I just left them on, on my test candles (you can’t really see it in the test photos).

  12. Les says:

    Hi, I’ve been experimenting with making a huge candle in an upturned bell jar 9″ dia. I wanted a large flame so just soaked a piece of 8mm thick dressing gown cord and put that in. It works great stays alight BUT smokes a lot and the wick doesn’t seem to burn down. I want it to burn without smoking exessively. Would soaking it in borax help ?

    • Red Ted Art says:

      I think it may be the cord that smokes a lot? I bought some candle wicks once (did have time to make my own) and they looked just like a cord and was much smokier than my homemade ones? What helped me (!) was to trim the wick and not have it too long?

  13. Luciano says:

    Hi everyone.i’m pretty new at candle wick making so i would appreciate any help :) i tried the recipie here for overnight borax, however the nxt morning my string was covered in crystals as was the jar.any ideas what i could have done wrong? I used 4 table spoons borax, 2 table spoons regular table salt & 1 1/5 cups of water. Thanks in advance for any help :)

  14. Christine Vella Borda says:

    Is there one method other than the above that would make the wick last longer than norm. I am asking this question because there are candles that seem to last longer than the norm.

  15. Skye says:

    you can also add essence to the wick as you make it – I love vanilla and natural ones, they smell fantastic! as the candle burns. I also add some into the melted wax to have a lovely smell. Lavander is always great in the home at night.

  16. Miranda says:

    Thanks for such a detailed explanation! I’ve tried making my own wicks for small and large container candles using cotton string, braided. I used the overnight method, and the wicks worked really well but after burning a couple hours, they fall over and drown in the melted wax! Any suggestions for how to keep them standing without using wire? Maybe it’s the string?

    • Red Ted Art says:

      Mmmh, that is a good question! I would have suggested braiding them – but you have done that already..?

      • Miranda says:

        Yes, I’ve braided them. I’m going to test again using a full-sized candle and wick — I’ve been testing only small amounts and maybe it’s just after all the wax is liquified that the bit of wick falls. I’ll let you know if that works!

    • kelly says:

      Only let the candle burn 2-4 hours blow out let cool trim wick and relight this should keep it from falling over

  17. i just have left wax and my wick is die thank you for giving light to my candle it good idea

  18. Cindy says:

    I really wanted to make candles yesterday since I was off work but ran out of wicks. So I soaked my cotton yarn (Lily’s Sugar’n’Cream) for about three or four hours, then threw it in the dryer on high for a full cycle. Since I was cutting it up anyhow, the tangles didn’t really effect it. Then I dipped four or so times. Wow! This wick is way better than the store bought ones and I made a ton, at least 100 feet, in probably 30 minutes!

  19. Faith says:


  20. Max says:

    Fantastic Guide :)

  21. Dan says:

    Well done. Thanks especially for showing your comparison of results!

  22. Hannah says:

    I made some of these and I got a 3″ flame!!!
    so excited they worked!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *